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Theoretical Solid State Physics

Module PH1001 [ThPh KM]

This module handbook serves to describe contents, learning outcome, methods and examination type as well as linking to current dates for courses and module examination in the respective sections.

Module version of WS 2018/9 (current)

There are historic module descriptions of this module. A module description is valid until replaced by a newer one.

available module versions
WS 2018/9WS 2017/8WS 2016/7WS 2010/1

Basic Information

PH1001 is a semester module in German language at Master’s level which is offered in winter semester.

This Module is included in the following catalogues within the study programs in physics.

  • Theory courses for condensed matter physics
  • Complementary catalogue of special courses for nuclear, particle, and astrophysics
  • Complementary catalogue of special courses for Biophysics
  • Complementary catalogue of special courses for Applied and Engineering Physics
  • Specialization Modules in Elite-Master Program Theoretical and Mathematical Physics (TMP)

If not stated otherwise for export to a non-physics program the student workload is given in the following table.

Total workloadContact hoursCredits (ECTS)
300 h 90 h 10 CP

Responsible coordinator of the module PH1001 is Wilhelm Zwerger.

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


I) Symmetries and structure of condensed matter

  1. Phases and broken symmetries
  2. Determination of structure by x-ray diffraction

II) Lattice vibrations

  1. Phonons and thermodynamics
  2. Neutron scattering, dynamic structure factor
  3. Anharmonic effects, melting, Lindemann criterion

III) Electrons

  1. Bonding types, stability
  2. Bloch theorem, Wannier functions, band theory
  3. Fermi surfaces, Thermodynamics
  4. Semiclassical dynamics of electrons, Bloch oscillations
  5. Edge state theory of the quantum Hall effect

IV) Many particle effects and disorder

  1. Interacting electron gas, screening, Wigner lattice
  2. Density Functional Theory
  3. Electron-Phonon interaction, BCS-theory of superconductivity
  4. Anderson localization in disordered quantum systems

Details on

Learning Outcome

Successful participation provides the following skills:

  1. Mathematical formulation of relevant structures of matter and their atomic composition. Calculation of the structural and dynamic properties of matter in terms of simple models

  2. Explain the physics of structural phase transitions at surfaces and for defect structures

  3. Understand modern methods for calculating the electronic structure of solids. Ability to perform simple density functional calculations

  4. Approximations and methods for solving many particle problems in condensed matter physics

  5. Understand and explain the nature of correlated low-dimensional systems in the framework of Fermi- or Luttinger liquid theory

  6. Explain and theoretically describe electronic phase transitions such as superconductivity


No preconditions in addition to the requirements for the Master’s program in Physics.

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Courses and Schedule

Learning and Teaching Methods

The module consists of a lecture and exercise classes.

In the thematically structured lecture the learning topics is presented. With cross references between different topics the universal concepts in physics are shown. In scientific discussions the students are involved to stimulate their analytic-physics intellectual power.

In the exercise (ca. 6-8 students) the learning content is deepened and exercised using problem examples and calculations. Thus the students are able to explain and apply the learned physics knowledge independently.


e-learning (tablet PC with voice recording for listening to parts or whole lectures/exercises), presentation documents, exercise sheets, computer simulations, accompanying website, supplementary literature


  • N.W. Ashcroft and N.D. Mermin, Solid State Physics, Cengage Learning (Deutsche Ausgabe: De Gruyter Oldenbourg)
  • P.M. Chaikin and T.C. Lubensky, Principles of Condensed Matter Physics, Cambridge University Press

Module Exam

Description of exams and course work

There will be a written exam of 90 minutes duration. Therein the achievement of the competencies given in section learning outcome is tested exemplarily at least to the given cognition level using calculation problems and comprehension questions.

For example an assignment in the exam might be:

  • Calculate the spectrum of eigenfrequencies for the longitudinal vibrations of the two-atomic chain harmonic chain, assuming periodic boundary conditions.
  • Determine the wave-function from the Bloch-condition for the Kronig-Penney model.

Exam Repetition

The exam may be repeated at the end of the semester.

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